Monday, February 27, 2012

Crazy Day

Monday is a big prep day for Stein and I. We start each week fresh and so our sauces an other staple items must be rebuilt from scratch. I usually start the weekly special in the early morning and Stein will often get soups going when he comes in later in the morning. Today I didn't get enough product to do more than a days worth of the special (lasagna),so tomorrow I will need to come in early and get all that done.

So today we were happily meadering about our morning getting things prepped (A very quiet morning too!) and then people started coming in and asking for lunch stuff around 10:30am (lunch doesn't usally start until 11:00 am). Stein always asks me, "Is everything ready in the front for lunch?" I said, "yes"... it felt like famous last words.

Then we got slammed. I'd made double my normal amount of pastrami for a Monday and three times as much corned beef. We sold out of both by 1:30pm. We sold out of quiche. We sold all but one serving of the lasagna. It was so busy. I heard rumor that they'd done an auction for forclosed homes at the court house.

It was a fun foodie day, but I felt like I couldn't spend time with the new foodies that came in. I did get to do some charcuterie stuff with patrons but not much. Ahhhh well I hope people had good experiences.

I had a wonderful relaxing weekend at the River wrapped lovingly around some of my most beloved and cherished friends in a place that is full of magic for me. I know I am not as focused right now as I could be on work. I know the recent break-up of my 6+ year relationship along with the brutal schedule of being a new restaurant owner is taking it toll on me mentally. It is one reason I am really grateful for Steain, who is a rock in the midst of my chaos, and Haley (our extern). It is so important to us to really arm her with some specialized skills that will make her a bad-ass in any kitchen she is a part of. She is already a hard worker and great to work with. Charcuterie is a hot trend in our industry and when she is done with her internship, she will know more about it than almost anyone she will work with. I feel really good about that.

As much as my heart is at the River, if I can get a weekend of work at home in I will feel like I am carving some clarity out of Chaos. I need to sit with Stein and reprice our menu, and then I need to redo all of our signage and also our web page. Plus I despeately need to go thru the list of checks the acountant sent me and label what they were all for. If I can get some quaity time with my kids, that would be really awesome as well. Clarity from Chaos. It must happen.

One of my favorite wholesale customers is trying to get his sausage truck on Off the Grid in the City. So I will be giving him some samples of my Andouille, Chicken Apple and Bratwurst, plus the Berber Blackberrry Organic Katsup for the oganizers to try. It would be pretty cool to be a part of something both high profile and cool like Off the Grid. I am looking forward to showing Haley how to make fresh sausages and how to use the sous vide set up to get them cooked to the perfect temperature.

Life is motoring right along. It feels so different and strange now. Like the road ahead of me is wide open and the horizon is an endless unknown. But I don't feel afraid. I feel wanderlust; I want to see where the road goes. I feel like it's MY road. Life is truly a gift... so rich and amazingly beautiful.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Three months...

This week's specials:

Duck Cassoulet with side salad

Soup tomorrow: Kale and Sausage in a rich garlic beef stock

Soup TBD... not sure yet but I picked up some butternut squash today

Today was Monday. I spent the weekend out at the River (the Stockton Delta) with some of my oldest and dearest friends... It felt good to get some down time! I spent all day Saturday prepping some box lunches for one of my favorite clients. He is the bank manager for next door (he and his staff are so nice we switched our merchant bank) and the event was a Napa wine excursion for this club (something like the Young Overachievers of America... I would presume he is the president of this club?). We did 115 box lunches (they were awesome, I hope everyone liked them). So I busted my ass Saturday from about 7am to 4pm (The power went out! It was such a pain) then ran home to grab my daughter and stopped for groceries before making the so achingly familiar trek to my childhood stomping grounds.

There is no way to talk about the magic that happens at the cafe without sounding full of hubris... It was easy to blog when I desperately needed to vent about the many difficulties and travails getting the shop opened. Maybe I am a glass half full kind of girl, but even though I am still not taking home a paycheck, I feel over-the-moon ecstatic about how well we have been received by this beautiful town we've fallen into. People come in every day and engage Stein and I in conversations about the cafe, the meats, what we are doing... they treat us like a special treasure (even when I am sporting dishwashing gloves and a cleaning rag in my hand).

Yesterday three distinguished elderly ladies happened by the shop, they each bought a beignet and french press coffee and snuggled in the corner table in the thin morning light. We've had some trouble getting the beignet to cook right recently, so I always ask people how they are right away. The quieter of the three sipped her coffee and stopped suddenly and stared at me intently. She asked how long we'd been open and then said the coffee was the best she'd ever had. I told her about our coffee roaster (John Weaver) and a bit about the coffee. Then that lead into the meats and all of the hand made food. She solemnly nodded and they spoke in hushed tones. So simple... just beignet and coffee, but they were so complimentary and encouraging!

And I am so excited to be welcoming  my first apprentice, Haley, to the Compass Star. She is finishing her culinary education at Le Cordon Bleu and is interested in making salumi. She will be coming by the shop tomorrow and I will take a picture of us together for the blog. I plan to work her through the full progression from basic to complicated: cured meat, smoked meat, fresh sausages, fresh smoked sausages, pate, dry cured meat, dry cured sausages, and emulsified sausage. I am relieved to have a focus for the next six weeks for making some sausages! We've been so busy it has been hard to squeeze in the time to keep up on our supplies.

Anyway, so things are motoring along. I love my vocation so very much.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A day of rest...

Today is Saturday. I met up with Stein and his lovely bride at the Restaurant Depot for some weekend shopping for the cafe, then we hit Aunt Mary's in Oakland for a noonish breakfast. It is odd... everything was really good, but not really to my personal taste. The portions were really big! Above is a Eggs Benidicto, which was a corn based cake with an egg, (really good) mole, guacamole and pico di gallo.

It feels strange to have down time... a guilty pleasure. I should be working! I spent some time designing the labels for selling sliced salumi in the cold display. We have so many customers ask for salumi by the pound so we got some nice vacuum seal bags and new labels and we are going to roll out some sliced salmi for sale next week. I also trolled the Internet and picked up some aluminum individual sized pie pans for future pot pies and quiches.

It's been a strange few weeks. My long term (6+ years) relationship ended (amicably). The foodies continue to embrace the restaurant more than we could have possibly imagined and Stein and I slip into an ever more regular and comfortable routine. It feels strange to be single. I've dropped a bit of weight and it is nice to feel sexy, in control of my life and thriving in my vocation. I feel like the next year is going to bring about changes that I cannot begin to fathom as I sit here in a sunny corner of my house. I feel excited and energized about the future.

Money is still a constant issue, but it feels like there could be some progress and things are getting better and better.

Foodie Fridays are developing as we'd hoped with our regulars coming in for extended lunch time schmoozing. It is my favorite day of the week!

Tomorrow I will go to the restaurant in the morning to prep for next weeks specials and fill a catering order. I will probably head over there around 8am. We got a delivery of organic beets that were too small for chips last week so we pickled the golden ones and will serve them next week with duck confit, arugula and some soft goats milk feta. The other special will be apple bourbon sausages with beet greens (we chopped them off the organic beets) and I am not sure what starch we will serve with that? I am hoping to done prepping by noon to get the catering stuff delivered and get home in time for the super bowl and to prep the food for the Culinary Symposium here at the house.

Very Cool!